Favorite of royalty, celebrities and just regular families, the Shih Tzu has made people's laps it throne for centuries.


The Shih Tzu's ancestors were probably the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso, but this was long ago. They were already favorites during the Ming Dynasty, and remained so for more than 500 years until the Dowager Empress Cixi died in the early 1900s. By the 1920s the breed was almost extinct in China because of the communist revolution. But a few were taken to England in 1930, and all present Shih Tzu can be traced to these 14 dogs.

Popularity was slow to come. The AKC only recognized them in 1969. But after that their popularity soared. Loving, funny, cute, sweet and little bit sassy, the Shih Tzu is both loving lap dog and comical companion. Give a Shih Tzu a toy and prepare to be entertained.

Health and Upkeep

Feed your Shih Tzu puppy a puppy food designed for toy dogs. Tiny puppies should be fed small amounts often–more than larger dogs–because they can't store glucose efficiently. They can easily develop hypoglycemia if they are active and have gone without food for too long. Puppy food for toy dogs combats hypoglycemia because it is high in protein, fat and complex carbohydrates. If your puppy becomes sleepy to the point of being hard to rouse, or unresponsive, it's an emergency. Rub syrup on his gums and get him to the veterinarian immediately. Most Shih Tzu outgrow the danger by the time they are 7 months old. But even as adults, a food designed for toy dogs is the best choice.

Shih Tzu are also prone to knee problems. If you see your Shih Tzu skipping for a step or two, he may have a condition your veterinarian needs to check. He may also eventually develop arthritic changes in his knees. To combat this, add a glucosamine-chondroitin supplement to his diet as soon as he shows any signs of hopping or lameness.

For a little dog, some Shih Tzu can pass a lot of gas. Adding an anti-gas pill to meals can make your lap-sharing time more enjoyable.

It's not easy to grow the long coats you see in the show ring. To do so you must feed a nutritious food with vitamin supplements. You must keep the coat free of parasites and dirt. With any Shih Tzu coat, when brushing or combing, spritz the coat lightly with a combination of water and conditioner; this prevents static electricity and breakage. Use a pin brush or metal comb to gently work through the coat in layers, making sure to reach all the way to the skin. Tease apart any mats, spraying them with a detangler or conditioner.

Bathe often, using a whitening shampoo. If your dog tends to scratch, use an avocado oil or oatmeal based shampoo. Follow with a conditioner. You can also apply a leave-in conditioner that will help prevent tangling and matting; however, you have to wash these out and replace them every week or even more often if your Shih Tzu gets dirty.

Check your Shih Tzu's ears weekly. Apply an ear cleanser any time the ears start to accumulate dark secretions. Some ear wax is healthy; a lot is not. If you must apply ear medication, use the ear cleanser first to remove thick secretions that would block the medication from reaching the surface of the canal.

Shih Tzu are prone to dental problems and tooth loss, so brush the teeth daily.

Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a small dog nail clipper.

Shih Tzu are perpetually young at heart, but sometimes age-related physical changes, such as arthritis, can slow them down. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him as young in body as he is in spirit.